en·​force | \ in-ˈfȯrs How to pronounce enforce (audio) , en-\
enforced; enforcing; enforces

Definition of enforce

transitive verb

1 : to give force to : strengthen
2 : to urge with energy enforce arguments
3 : constrain, compel enforce obedience
4 obsolete : to effect or gain by force
5 : to carry out effectively enforce laws

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from enforce

enforceability \ in-​ˌfȯr-​sə-​ˈbi-​lə-​tē How to pronounce enforceability (audio) , en-​ \ noun
enforceable \ in-​ˈfȯr-​sə-​bəl How to pronounce enforceable (audio) , en-​ \ adjective
enforcement \ in-​ˈfȯr-​smənt How to pronounce enforcement (audio) , en-​ \ noun

Examples of enforce in a Sentence

Police will be enforcing the parking ban. the duty of the police is to enforce the law

Recent Examples on the Web

Trump’s administration had told the courts that its rationale for adding the question was to better enforce a law that protects the voting rights of racial minorities. Reuters, The Mercury News, "Trump’s comments sow ‘confusion’ over census question," 3 July 2019 Clearly, the ban isn’t working, and nobody wants to see our overwrought police officers taking time away from fighting real crimes to enforce such a ridiculous law. Dahleen Glanton, chicagotribune.com, "Column: Fireworks will be going off in backyards all over the state this 4th of July. How’s that ban working out for you, Illinois?," 3 July 2019 The appeals court noted that the federal government has a long and well-established history of using its discretion not to enforce immigration law against certain categories of people. Dallas News, "Supreme Court will decide whether Trump has the power to end DACA," 28 June 2019 That essentially leaves tenants to enforce the state law. Tony Cook, Indianapolis Star, "3 'common sense' ways Indiana could protect renters from bad landlords — but doesn't," 26 June 2019 The Trump administration has cut back on enforcing this law, with the USDA now conducting fewer investigations and imposing fewer fines, as ProPublica has reported. Isaac Arnsdorf, ProPublica, "How a Top Chicken Company Cut Off Black Farmers, One by One," 26 June 2019 Separating children from their parents is an inevitable consequence of enforcing not only immigration law but many other laws as well. Kevin D. Williamson, National Review, "Immigration Policy: Bordering on Madness," 25 June 2019 CSOs will not have the authority to enforce the law as a traditional police officer would, and their uniforms and patrol cars will be distinctly marked. Brian Contreras, The Seattle Times, "City to hire 12 unarmed, noncommissioned officers as Seattle police deal with staffing, public image," 25 June 2019 In recent years, the city has passed Boston’s first Trust Act to keep police officers from enforcing immigration law and has opposed efforts to undermine national policies, such as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Milton J. Valencia, BostonGlobe.com, "Head of Roxbury mosque tapped to lead city’s immigrant-outreach office," 21 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'enforce.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of enforce

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for enforce

Middle English, from Anglo-French enforcer, from en- + force force

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about enforce

Statistics for enforce

Last Updated

10 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for enforce

The first known use of enforce was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for enforce



English Language Learners Definition of enforce

: to make (a law, rule, etc.) active or effective : to make sure that people do what is required by (a law, rule, etc.)
: to make (something) happen : to force or cause (something)


en·​force | \ in-ˈfȯrs How to pronounce enforce (audio) \
enforced; enforcing

Kids Definition of enforce

1 : to make happen He tried to enforce cooperation.
2 : to carry out or make effective enforce a law

Other Words from enforce

enforcement \ –mənt \ noun


transitive verb
enforced; enforcing

Legal Definition of enforce

: to cause to take effect or to be fulfilled enforcing the divorce decree Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislationU.S. Constitution amend. XIX

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on enforce

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with enforce

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for enforce

Spanish Central: Translation of enforce

Nglish: Translation of enforce for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of enforce for Arabic Speakers

Comments on enforce

What made you want to look up enforce? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


characterized by aphorism

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!